1 Day Drumheller Itinerary + Seasonal Guide & Things to do

Drumheller is the “Dinosaur Capital of the World” and is located in the heart of Alberta’s Badlands. This small town has fossils, hoodoos, buttes, and whole lot of Badlands charm.

Drumheller is commonly visited as a day trip from Calgary and beyond, however you could easily spend 2 days here exploring the trails, attractions, and surrounding area. The unique Badlands landscape makes you feel like you’re on Mars, not in Alberta!

In this blog post I’ll go over everything you need to know about visiting Drumheller, a 1 day Drumheller itinerary, things to do in Drumheller, seasonal information, lodging options, and more.

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~ Taylor ♡

What is Drumheller

how to spend 1 day in Drumheller

Drumheller has been named the “Dinosaur Capital of the World” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s located in the heart of Alberta’s Badlands and is known for its unique landscape characterized by striking rock formations, deep canyons, and rich fossil deposits.

Fun fact, the population of Drumheller is less than 8K!

The town is littered with dinosaur statues and the streets are all named after various dinosaurs. Beyond its dinosaur theme and paleontological treasures, Drumheller also offers visitors a range of attractions and activities which makes this location a great day trip for kids and adults alike.

Not to be confused with Dinosaur Provincial Park, Drumheller is one of the best places in Canada to take in the unique Badlands landscape and learn about Canada’s “local” Dinosaur history.

You can learn more about Drumheller’s town history here.

How to get to Drumheller

1 day Drumheller itinerary

Click below for driving directions to Drumheller.

Drumheller lies in the Drumheller Valley which is around 1.5hrs (122kms) East of the Calgary International Airport or 2hrs 45mins (266kms) South from the Edmonton International Airport. There are no public shuttles to Drumheller so you’ll have to drive your own car or rent one to get there.

Keep in mind – depending on where you’re coming from there are limited gas stations along the way. Make sure you drive out to Drumheller with a full tank of gas.

The route to Drumheller is quite scenic in the sense the roads wind through farmland and wide open skies. you’ll often see deer and coyote roaming these parts – make sure you keep an eye on the road!

Something unique about this area are the small oil rigs that pop up along the side of the highway. Alberta is Canada’s biggest oil producer so you’ll only see these rigs in this Canadian Province.

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Where to stay in Drumheller

1 day Drumheller itinerary
Horseshoe Canyon Lookout, Drumheller

Drumheller is a small town with fairly limited accommodations. It’s recommended you book your stay in advance if you’re visiting during summer to secure your spot.


You can find a complete list of hotels in Drumheller here, however my favourite places to stay in Drumheller are as follows (I like the options with pools as they’ll help you “beat the heat” during summer). These hotels are located directly in town and offer the best opportunity to explore the local attractions:

Alternatively, visitors can opt to lodge in Calgary and visit Drumheller as a day trip rather than stay overnight.

If you prefer to camp in Drumheller, you can check out the local campgrounds here.

Best time to visit Drumheller

1 day Drumheller itinerary
Trails outside the Royal Tyrrell Museum

My personal favourite time to visit Drumheller is during spring or fall. Specifically, April-May and Sept-Oct.

Although the weather is a bit more unpredictable during these months, Drumheller sees very few visitors which means you’ll often have attractions and viewpoints all to yourself.

Mid summer Drumheller can be very hot and tourism picks up exponentially. During winter, temperatures can be brutally cold and windy. Although the colder months aren’t the best time to visit Drumheller, I think seeing the Badlands covered in a light dusting of snow late fall/early winter would actually be really beautiful.

Weather in Drumheller

how to spend 1 day in Drumheller
Drumheller Hoodoos (aka Willow Creek Hoodoos)

The weather in Drumheller can change rapidly as the area is exposed to the plains which means intense weather and strong winds occur frequently. Rain is not uncommon in this area, so it’s best to pack extra layers and rain gear just in case. If you plan to wear a hat, ensure it can be tightened so it doesn’t fly away.

Drumheller experiences a semi-arid climate with very cold winters and hot summers. Fun fact, the highest temperature ever recorded in Drumheller was 40.6 °C (105 °F) on July 18, 1941. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −43.9 °C (−47 °F) on January 29, 1996.

Where to Eat in Drumheller

things to do in drumheller
Badlands Landscape

Despite being a small town, Drumheller has quite a few options when it comes to dining. Keep in mind many of the cafes and restaurants have shorter opening hours during shoulder season and winter. It’s always best to bring snacks and water on your trip to Drumheller.

If you’re willing to drive a bit out of town for a bite, the Last Chance Saloon is an iconic restaurant near Drumheller. The restaurant looks like it’s straight out of the Wild West and has an interesting history with the local mine.

10+ Things to do in Drumheller

There’s no shortage of unique things to do in Drumheller. From hiking to learning about dinosaurs to photography and more – here’s everything you can do in Canada’s Dinosaur town.

Photograph the World’s Largest Dinosaur

things to do in Drumheller
World’s Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller

This is one of my favourite things to do in Drumheller as I think it’s quite comical. Drumheller is home to the “World’s Largest Dinosaur” – a T-Rex named Tyra.

Tyra is located next to the Drumheller information centre which is a great spot to ask the locals for information, grab maps, or a souvenir. You can climb the 106 stairs inside Tyra which leads to a lookout in her mouth for $5.

Look at those “tiny” cars for scale!

Learn About Dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum

how to spend 1 day in Drumheller
Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is one of the most – if not THE most – famous museums in Canada which easily makes this one of the best things to do in Drumheller.

It holds a shocking amount of dinosaur fossils, interactive games, a garden, and various other activities and displays. There are also walking trails outside the museum which is a great way to get up-close-and-personal with the Badlands landscape.

Budget minimum 2 hours here, however 3 is more likely. When I visited the museum we were there for around 4 hours if you combine time spent in the museum + time exploring the trails outside.

It’s not mandatory to book tickets in advance if you’re visiting during winter or shoulder season, however if you’re visiting during summer you must book your tickets and a time slot in advance as the museum gets very busy.

Check out Drumheller’s Willow Creek Hoodoos

Drumheller hoodoo trail + Willow Creek Hoodoos
Willow Creek Hoodoos, Drumheller

The Drumheller Hoodoos – aka the Willow Creek Hoodoos – are the thing that people come from all over to see. These little hoodoos are a 15 minute drive from town and there’s a path to the right of the hoodoos display that brings you to the top of the ridge where you can overlook them and the surrounding area.

I’ve been to the Drumheller Hoodoos 3 times and my favourite time of day to see them has been during sunset and blue hour (bonus points if the moon is out).

Be mindful that if conditions are wet, the rocks become very muddy and slippery. Proper footwear is recommended.

ps – hoodoos are tall, thin spires of rock formed by erosion.

Photograph the Little Church

Drumheller little church - one of the best things to do in Drumheller
Drumheller’s Little Church

The Little Church is easily Drumheller’s cutest attraction. It’s located just up the road from the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the doors are almost always unlocked so you can take a peak inside.

Inside the Little Church you’ll find 6 little pews and stained glass windows.

FYI the church can be booked out for weddings and events. If this is something you’re interested in, check out this page.

Photograph Horsethief Canyon

things to do in Drumheller - horsethief canyon
Horsethief Canyon Lookout, Drumheller

If you’re looking for things to do in Drumheller as a photographer, add Horsethief Canyon to your list. The canyon is stunning and gets its name from the old ranching industry in the area.

Although visitors commonly venture down into the canyon, I’ve read online past the viewpoint is private property. Hike around here at your own risk, but be sure to bring sturdy shoes with traction as the “trail” down into the canyon floor is steep and slippery.

Have a Picnic at the Orkney Viewpoint

how to spend 1 day in Drumheller - Orkney Viewpoint
Orkney Viewpoint, Drumheller

The Orkney Viewpoint is a great spot to have a picnic or stop for a rest and take in the views. There are benches at the viewpoint if you’d like to grab a seat and admire the Red Deer River.

The above photo was taken around sunset. Lighting-wise, morning would definitely be better for photography purposes.

Hike Through Horseshoe Canyon

how to spend 1 day in Drumheller - Horseshoe Canyon
Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller

Horseshoe Canyon is easily the most striking Drumheller “hike.” There are multiple viewpoints and information boards overlooking the canyon and the canyon trail winds through the many buttes in the area.

If you’re visiting during summer, it’s recommended to do this hike early in the day to avoid the heat.

There’s a trail that loops the top of the canyon or you can opt to venture down into the canyon via the stairs to the West of the parking lot.

Look for Fossils in Drumheller

Drumheller is the “Dinosaur Capital of the World” so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that fossil hunting is genuinely something to do in Drumheller! Fossils can be found anywhere, so keep your eyes peeled.

Something to be mindful of when hunting for fossils is the act of taking fossils is illegal. Here’s an excerpt from the Drumheller Tourism Page:

“Digging up or removing a fossil is punishable with fines of up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison. If you find a fossil, photograph it and note any visible features (use something for scale, like a coin or a pen). Then locate it on a map, using permanent landmarks (use GPS if available). Leave the fossil buried and report the find to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. If it has been dislodged and is lying on the surface, take it to the Royal Tyrrell Museum.”

Check out the Bleriot Ferry

This is the latest cable operated ferry in Alberta. It operates from 7:00am to 11:00pm from May to October (generally). There is no cost to access the ferry.

The ferry crosses the Red Deer River at a sloooow pace. Not the most “exciting” thing to do in Drumheller, but definitely a unique experience!

Walk the Star Mine Suspension Bridge

things to do in Drumheller
Star Mine Suspension Bridge, Drumheller

The Star Mine Suspension Bridge is on route to the willow Creek Hoodoos, so you might as well stop in for a photoshoot or the opportunity to walk across the Red Deer River.

Originally, the suspension bridge was built across the Red Deer River to allow the coal miners access to Star Mine from Rosedale.

Atlas Coal Mine

If you’re hoping to learn a bit more about Drumheller’s mining history, add the Atlas Coal Mine to your Drumheller itinerary. This is a historical site for a large underground coal mine near Wayne and the Willow Creek Hoodoos.

There’s a 75 minute underground tour (the “Mine Portal Hike”) which is led by an interpreter who will guide guests through the mine and tell stories & historical facts. Guests are provided hard hats and lamps to wear. Sturdy, fully enclosed shoes are required for the tour. The tour is for ages 6+ (no exceptions).

If you’re visiting during summer, be sure to book your tickets/time slot in advance.

Attend a Local Event in Drumheller

Drumheller hosts plenty of local events to retell the local history – one of the most “famous” being the Passion Play in the Badlands Amphitheatre. Aside from this, Drumheller hosts community events like pancake breakfasts, yoga in the park, and more.

You can see an updated list of Drumheller’s events here.

Visit Wayne

Wayne is now a ghost town – only a few residents remain after the closing of the Star Mine. The area gives off a real “Wild West” vibe and is home to the Last Chance Saloon which is one of the most highly rated restaurants in the area.

Parks for the Kids (or Adults)

If you’re looking for things to do in Drumheller during summer for the kids (or adults looking to have a real good time), check out the following:

  • Cactus Coulee Fun Park – has go-karts, mini golf, euro bungy, and ice cream. Or you can hop on a helicopter tour here. They also have a campground. TripAdvisor has mixed reviews on this place – some say it is overpriced and may have had issues with staff while others say it is a lot of fun.
  • Barney’s Adventure Park – With 30+ things to do at this newly opened park, there’s too much to list. Think corn mazes, pig races, zip lines, go karts, and more.

Drumheller Tours

If you’re looking for guided tours in Drumheller to take the research planning aspect out of planning, check out the below:

1 Day Drumheller Itinerary

how to spend 1 day in Drumheller

There’s a lot to see in Drumheller, so it’s best to get an early start. Whether you’re staying in Drumheller overnight or driving in from a neighbouring city, I recommend arriving in time to see sunrise and staying long enough to see sunset. 2 days in Drumheller is ideal, however you can see everything in 1 day if you have a good plan in place!

The ideal day trip to Drumheller would be as follows. This Drumheller itinerary is laid out the way it is to minimize time spent driving.

  • See sunrise from Horseshoe Canyon and walk the trail down below
  • Grab breakfast at WHIFS Flapjack House or Black Mountain Roasters
  • Photograph the Little Church on the way to Horsethief Canyon
  • After Horsethief Canyon, head over to the Orkney Viewpoint
  • Photograph the World’s Largest Dinosaur and grab lunch in town (my favourite place is The Chopped Leaf, but you can find all my Drumheller restaurant recommendations here)
  • After lunch, pop into the Royal Tyrrell Museum (budget 2-3 hours for this)
  • Photograph the Star Mine Suspension Bridge and grab dinner at the Last Chance Saloon in Wayne (budget a bit of extra time to explore this “Ghost Town”)
  • Finish the day by watching sunset from the Willow Creek Hoodoos
  • OPTIONAL: visit the Bleriot Ferry after the Orkney Viewpoint and visit the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site before/after dinner at the Last Chance Saloon

Of course if you’re staying in Drumheller overnight you can space this itinerary out over 2 days. However if you only have 1 day in Drumheller, this is how you can see everything in the area efficiently.

Happy adventuring!

Taylor ♡

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About The Author

HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.

After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.

I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.

I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.


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